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Heroes: Teacher Saves 42 Students from Tsunami Heroes: Teacher Saves 42 Students from Tsunami

Heroes: Teacher Saves 42 Students from Tsunami

by Liz Dwyer
March 19, 2011


Incredibly touching, heroic stories keep emerging from Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster, and the latest comes from the coastal town of Ofunato. A courageous high school teacher named Robert Bailey saved the lives of his 42 students—and he only had eight minutes to do so.

The 27-year-old British national has lived in Ofunato for four years with his wife, Mai. In a twist of fate that may have saved his life, Bailey wasn't scheduled to be at school last Friday, but went in anyway on his day off to teach a fun cricket lesson. He told Sky News that when the earthquake struck, he and his students "first heard a weird cracking noise, then came the violent shaking."

When the tsunami warning sirens sounded, the quick-thinking teacher knew he only had eight minutes to act. Thankfully, he hustled and was able to guide his class to safety on top of a nearby hill. He says he was "terrified" but could only think about keeping the kids safe.

Once at the top of the hill, Bailey says the students cried and huddled together, waiting for the massive wave to approach. "We didn't know whether we were safe. All we could do was to watch it come towards us and pray we were high enough above it to be okay," he said. As you can see from the photo above, the village is completely devastated and Bailey and his students are lucky to be alive.

The dedicated teacher is movingly humble about his life-saving actions. As his mother told the Daily Mirror, ""We're proud of him but as far as he's concerned, he's no hero. He was just doing the job he was meant to do." Bailey also has no plans to evacuate to the United Kingdom. Instead, he's staying in Ofunato, helping his community and trying to find friends and co-workers. Sadly, the school's 137 other students are still missing.

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